MOBEXX 2019: Why customer obsession is good for business: Vivek Jain

‘Customer Obsession’ rather than customer experience is what Vivek Jain, Chief of Product, Technology and Operations, MX Player, stresses on. While delivering his keynote address on ‘Customer Obsession - A Mobile Lens’ at MOBEXX 2019, Jain affirmed, “The belief of a company should be to do good to the customer. If you do good to a customer and create value for him, in the long term you’ll learn how to extract that value and sustain your business.” 

To add more weight to his address, Jain spoke about one of his experiences with Jeff Bezos, Founder, CEO and President of Amazon. Jain mentioned that during meetings, the seat on Bezo’s right is always empty. “This is because Jeff believes that the most important aspect during these meetings is the Customer. The customer should be helping with the decision making aspect of the company. Jeff leaves the right seat empty to remind himself of the customer and think from their perspective. This is a powerful thought and a good example of customer obsession,” Jain elaborated. 

Speaking further, Jain said that companies looked at aggregate data which created a loss in individual anecdotes. Citing MX Player’s example, he said that the company gets at least 20,000 reviews on Playstore. The largest team they have is customer support instead of tech or any other aspect of the platform. Product managers have to mandatorily read customer reviews for a whole day every 15 days. “Anecdotes are as important as the story aggregate data tells,” Jain insisted. 

“At MX Player, we believe everything starts at the customer, and then we work backwards,” Jain said, adding, “There are many businesses and companies that have achieved success doing the exact opposite, like Samsung, which focuses more on R&D rather than customer needs. However, I still believe in having customer as the focus.” 

According to Jain, obsessing over what the competitor is doing and replicating that in one’s business is never beneficial. “This is a completely wrong way of doing the business and you’ll never be ahead of the curve,” he warned. 

To further demonstrate how some successful companies have kept the customer at the centre, Jain cited a few examples of product management dilemmas of the past. The first example was that of Amazon Retail, when it was mulling over entering the DVD rental business. Entering the DVD rental business would cut the size of the market, as buying DVDs generates more ROI rather than renting them. Amazon had also decided to not edit or remove customer reviews to maintain transparency with the customer, which has worked for them in the long term. 

Another example cited was that of Reliance Jio, where the company was questioning the fact whether a download feature should be available for digital media apps. Streaming online generates more revenue rather than just a single download. Customers streaming online a 100 times is more beneficial to the business rather than a single download. However, giving the option of downloading makes it easier and convenient for the customer. 

Jain concluded his address by observing that customers will always get what they want. “The question is whether it is from your platform or elsewhere.”

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